Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Progressive Taxes

So while we are contemplating tax cuts vs. government spending for the big Obama stimulus package, the concept of progressive taxation keeps coming up.  Progressive taxation means that your tax rate goes up with your income. (Hence the 15% vs. the 28% tax brackets). 

Most people would argue that the U.S. has a progressive system, and that the rich are paying a higher proportion of their income in taxes than the poor.  This is true for federal taxes.  However, when you factor in state and local taxation, it's not as apparent. 

This post provides a graph of the share of income against the share of taxes paid.  In a perfectly flat tax system, the share of income would exactly equal the share of taxes paid.  In a progressive system, the richest group should pay a larger share of the taxes than their share of income (and vice versa for the poorest group).

The graph suggests only a very slight progressive nature in total taxation (although some of that may be due to the scale of the axes).  But it is not as clearly progressive as federal taxation alone.

No comments: